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Sky lantern launch ban on Yorkshire council-owned land

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A ban on sky lanterns could be considered for council-owned land within Yorkshire’s seaside resorts as fears are raised over their impact on wildlife and the environment.

The paper hot air balloons, bouyed by suspended candles, have in the past been blamed for livestock deaths, seaside pollution and starting fires.

Now, as councillors at Scarborough Council are set to debate a motion banning their launch outright from authority land, critics say this should be the start of a region-wide trend.

“Whatever goes up, must come down,” said Coun Bill Chatt who proposed the motion. “It’s all of our problem.

“People don’t realise they blow out to sea, they blow out over land, and have been linked to the deaths of animals and other serious incidents.

“It’s a fad - there’s no need for it. We talk about getting rid of plastics, so why not this pollution?

“Yes, they look nice, but what damage are they doing once they are out of sight?”

Coun Chatt’s motion, seconded by Coun Helen Mallory, is to be debated by councillors on Friday.

The move would see them banned from being launched on any authority-owned land, such as parks or outside the town hall.

“As much as 65 per cent of the Scarborough District is rural,” said Coun Chatt. “We’re in the national park. The last thing we want is to put any fires on the moors.

“We don’t know where these things are going, but half are ending up in the ocean.

“We can’t stop people setting them off from their own homes,” added Coun Chatt. “But Scarborough Council needs to set the trend and say we don’t want these any more.”

Concerns have long been raised over the impact of the lanterns on livestock and buildings, and of the pollution they can cause when they drift out to sea.

The NFU, calling for a total ban across the country to safeguard property and animals, has said more authorities should bring in bans of their use.

“The NFU has heard from plenty of farmers about the devastating damage sky lanterns have caused,” said president Minette Batters.

“Simply put, all of these lanterns must land somewhere and while they may look pretty in the sky, they also become unnecessary litter across our beautiful countryside.”

The RSPCA has also called for authorities in England to enforce the ban, as all Welsh council land is now designated a ‘no fly zone’ for sky lanterns and warned the devices can have “deadly consequences” for anmials.

Laura Foster, head of pollution at the Marine Conservation Society, said mass balloon events can pollute beaches and seas, often miles from where they were released.

“Balloon debris can be a major choking hazard for animals across land and sea,” she said. “However this is an item that’s easy to prevent and we fully support local councils who introduce a local ban on intentional balloon releases, together with sky lanterns.

“The Society has seen an increase in UK balloon litter by 200 per cent over the last decade. Last year we found over four balloon and lantern related litter pieces per 100m on our beaches.”